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New Zealanders willing to pay tax to protect dolphins

Media Release 25 July – Gemma McGrath, WDC

New Zealanders willing to pay tax to protect dolphins

A report released this week shows a large majority of New Zealanders want Maui’s and Hector’s dolphins protected and they are prepared to pay for it.

The report was commissioned by the world’s largest international cetacean conservation organisation, Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC).

Maui’s and Hector’s dolphins are unique to New Zealand, with very slow breeding rates. Numbers are in rapid decline, due to destructive fishing methods - set netting and trawling.

Maui’s dolphins are now down to less than 50 individuals and will be extinct in 15 years if the government fails to take action.

WDC researcher Gemma McGrath explains, “This representative survey shows 80% of voters want greater protection put in place that safeguards our dolphins.

“These native dolphins are the fantails of the sea. Imagine if there were fewer than 50 fantails left? This is what we’re facing along our coasts.

“These dolphins are our kaitiaki, our guardians - and we are theirs. They also act as tohu (signs). The fact that they are in such trouble is a strong indicator that our inshore ecosystems are in trouble too.

“There are other ways to fish, and these wiser ways would add outstanding value to our economy, tourism industry and recreational fishing. We could stand on the beach and see our oceans teeming with life again, every day.”

WDC, other NGOs and scientists all agree the best means of achieving protection for our dolphins is to make the switch to safer fishing methods throughout the dolphins’ range. They also need to be protected from seismic testing and sand mining.

“The really important finding from this study is that Kiwis are very prepared to pay extra for fish to allow non-destructive methods to be used.

“And once we enable the dolphins’ future – we empower ours.”

Less than 10% of Maui’s and Hector’s habitat is protected from destructive fishing methods.


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